Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Four

Money matters: Canadiens win tax squabble with Montreal, Alberta won’t fund Oilers’ new arena

Here are a couple of stories about NHL teams fighting with city/regional governments for money related to their new or previous arena deals.

  • First, news that’s good for an NHL team: the Montreal Canadiens won a tax-related battle with the city of Montreal regarding the Bell Centre. The Habs will receive a $5.8 million rebate after this legal victory. The Canadiens’ annual tax bill will also drop from $10 million to $8.5 million. The combined rebate and first year of savings (about $7.3 million) would almost cover Scott Gomez’s $7.5 million salary in 2011-12. No word regarding whether or not the Canadiens’ brass began an “Ole” chant after hearing the good news.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are desperate to leave the 37-year-old Rexall Place once their lease expires in 2014. To do so, the Oilers reportedly need a big boost from either Alberta or the federal government.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, both sides seem reluctant (at best) to give them a $100-$125 million boost to build a $425 million arena project.

“There won’t be any direct dollars flowing to the arena. It’s a private sector business,” said Premier Ed Stelmach at an event in Calgary Wednesday.

“We’ve always said if they are improvements that can be made to the infrastructure around the proposed arena — LRT, water, sewer all of those that are joint responsibility of the city and the province. But we are continuing to meet.”

The federal government has been equally reluctant.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear earlier this year that his government is not in the pro-hockey business and will not spend taxpayers’ money on a professional sports arena or stadium.

This Oilers arena issue has been brewing for a few years now, but still seems like an under the radar problem. We’ll keep an eye on it as it develops, though, because it could get quite a bit thornier if the word “relocation” is thrown around even more than it already has been.

PHT Morning Skate: 10 years of Ovechkin; 10,000 days with Lamoriello

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Looking back at 10 years of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals, in case the above video made you want more. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

David Conte spent 10,000 days with Lou Lamoriello and lived to tell about it. (TSN)

Want to spot some contract year guys? Here are 32 pending restricted free agents. (Sportsnet)

NHL GMs are starting to sniff around with the 2015-16 season about to kick off. (Ottawa Sun)

Some backstory on Zack Kassian that was passed around on Twitter last evening. (Canucks website)

Hey, you can’t say Raffi Torres hasn’t literally paid for his ways:

This is some quality chirping between Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby:

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild

Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.